What to watch in the Big East: Week 2

September, 6, 2012
9/06/12
10:15
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Here's what to keep an eye on in the Big East this week:

1. Cincinnati. What can be expected of the Bearcats in their first game? Does a healthy, rested roster help? Or do the first-game cobwebs still need to be shaken? We'll probably find out early Thursday night when they host Pitt.

2. Pitt's response. Speaking of the Panthers, how do they bounce back from their flat debut under Paul Chryst? A quick turnaround may be just what the team needs to erase the bad memories from Week 1, but again, Cincinnati is well-rested and will look to take advantage of its time off.

[+] EnlargeTrevardo Williams
Michael Ivins/US PresswireTrevardo Williams and UConn defense put on a show against UMass; NC State presents a step up.
3. UConn's defense. The Huskies were absolutely dominant in their opener, giving up just 59 total yards and coming out of Week 1 as the nation's top-ranked unit. But ACC opponent NC State will present a much tougher test than FBS newcomer UMass.

4. Will the Owls rout the Terps ... again? It's hard not to think this could be a repeat of last season, as Temple gets to host a very depleted Maryland squad that barely escaped William & Mary 7-6 in its opener. A victory over the ACC as a Big East member would be a nice step for Temple, the conference newcomer.

5. Avoiding FCS upsets. You can thank Pitt for this category. Louisville and Rutgers host Missouri State and Howard, respectively, as both try to go to 2-0.

6. How does USF handle Nevada? A long trip through several time zones will present a big early-season challenge for the Bulls, who face a Wolf Pack team that runs the pistol offense and is coming off a big upset win last week at Cal.

7. Cuse goes for huge upset. Quarterback Matt Barkley entered the season as the Heisman front-runner; receiver Marqise Lee looked like it last week for USC. The No. 2 Trojans present challenges all over the place for a Syracuse defense that gave up 42 points last week to Northwestern.

8. An early-season measuring stick. Syracuse tries to pull off a monumental upset over the nation's No. 2 team. USF travels to Nevada. And UConn and Temple kick off the first two of eight conference matchups this season with the ACC. The Big East has a chance to gain some early-season respect on a weekend that features little flavor on the national level.

Matt Fortuna | email

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